Saturday, October 30, 2010

bath puppets

OK- I finished up the bath puppets today. Having a project like this has definitely helped. The knitting was finished a few days ago and I did then faces yesterday and today. One of the especially fun parts about this project was the trip the kids and I took to them Button Emporium in downtown Portland. This was an amazing shop filled with buttons and ribbons. We went there on a Wednesday so we could also check out the downtown Farmers Market (for apples!), a few of the food carts (for tacos, frozen yogurt and a Jarritos [one of Samuel's favorite drinks]) and the art supply store (for paints). We took an extra side trip to one of our favorite toy stores, Finnegans, and a short walk up to Stumptown for some coffee. It was a fine day in the city by any measure.

The pattern for these bath puppets is from Kids Knitting by Melanie Falick.

Here they all are. Two owls and three cats. The purple and pink cottons were the yarns that I hand dyed years ago. They were knit double stranded with #8 needles at 4 stitches/inch in garter stitch. The yellow is some leftover Patagonia chunky cotton from two summers ago and was knit with one strand at 7 stitches/2 inches, also on #8 needles. I used various scrap yarn for the face. {I almost think the variegated yarns' coloring detracts from the faces and might decide to use solid yarns if I do these again. Part of the appeal of the project, though, for me, was using up some of the cotton in my stash and this was what I currently had on hand in large enough quantities.} The yellow guy with the teal mouth and purple eyes is my personal favorite and will be staying with me {grin}.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

zen and the art of missing maxwell

This is a cotton yarn that I hand dyed around eight years ago or so. It has been sitting with other unfinished knitting and knotted skeins of yarn all these years just waiting to be wound into neat little knit-with-able balls of yarn. Apparently my cat-missing-mind is just the right mind to undertake this task. I was pleased that this particular unwound skein was not as knotted and gnarled as I had thought it would be. Still, it's not a project I would choose for just any day. Obviously. I am planning to use this yarn to knit cotton bath puppets. All I can say is that people are going to be receiving A LOT of hand knits for Christmas gifts this year. Keeping my hands busy is definitely helping me with my missing-maxwell-mind.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Peace is every step.

Maxwell passed away yesterday afternoon at home. He was 13 1/2. He will be missed tremendously.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Here is some Maxwell back story I was working on a few days ago (or so). I'm a little overwhelmed these days and find I am having trouble finishing up any of the blog posts I have been starting during the free spaces my mind ekes out-

At some point while living in New York during the summer of 1997, I decided I wanted a second cat. I had done research about adding a second cat to our home to help our cat Agnes with the transition. I had also convinced myself that a second cat would be good for Agnes's health (read- weight) and emotional well being. She seemed so enthusiastic when she saw other cats sitting or walking outside our various apartments in Los Angeles and then Brooklyn, it seemed a shoe in that if I got the right cat as a roommate for her, she would be thrilled.

Thirteen years later and she is still not thrilled. Agnes likes to keep her distance from Maxwell and bristles- growls, even- when he passes too close to her. Just the other day, Maxwell was sitting on my lap and Agnes climbed up to sit next to me. As soon as she saw Maxwell, she began growling. I covered her eyes as I often do in these cases and she stopped growling. All is well as long as she can't actually see Maxwell. With her eyes covered, Agnes was finally able to relax and pretend {as it were} that Maxwell was not sitting on my lap being pet just six inches from her.

I keep wondering if she will miss him when he is gone. I was touched, then, when I saw her sitting with him in the hall a few days after the growling-on-my-lap incident from above. Agnes was peaceful as she sat near Maxwell. Completely relaxed. Resting. It was all I could do to not sit down in between them and enjoy their company together. I kept walking, though. I did not want to be the one to disrupt the delicate balance clearly at work there in the hallway. And of course, when I tried to return to take a picture to document the occasion, Agnes had already gotten up and moved on...

Sunday, October 3, 2010

wholeness and then some

So basically I've been thinking a lot about wholeness lately. And what I love about that is how so many things- articles, conversations, thoughts- {seem to} flow together, all talking about or referring to, in one way or another, wholeness. Making a case for wholeness, as it were.

How to create wholeness. Or rather- allow wholeness. In our lives. Because wholeness is one of those qualities like love that is already present. There is nothing we have to do to make it be. We don't have to create it. It already is. What we can do is change our thinking about it. In this way we can begin to allow what already is. What we already are.

And so begin the arguments- almost at once- as I try and reconcile the seemingly incongruous ideas of allowing who I am *right now* and all that this entails (all being the key word here) and continuing my penchant for self-help, self-thought, self-growth, and on ad infinitum, or such like, as I am obviously prone. A hobby of mine perhaps, or simply a way of life, I do enjoy examining how I live and working toward truth and authenticity in my daily life. With myself, with my kids, with my friends and family. And in how I spend my time.

The question then becomes, how do I reconcile these two modes of thinking? How can it be both fixing and everything-is-right-as-rain at the same time?

Frequently when discussing wholeness, the line of thinking goes something like this. There is a core you. The authentic you. The true you. And depending on your religious or spiritual beliefs, that you (often seen as You) has either been taken from you or hidden from you- from our culture or the parenting you received (or both) or religion or even as a lesson to be learned during this life. The idea being that we have to learn to reconnect with wholeness and dump the inauthentic you- the impostor, if you will. I get this line of thinking and can see the value in its explanation, at least in part, for why we don't all feel connected to our truth all the time. As we most likely did as babies. And as young children. But less now. Etcetera.

What bothers me, though, with this line of thinking is the sort of inherent dualism that comes along with it. For instance, if there is a better me, there is a worse me. If there is a higher me, there is a lower me. And so on. There's no denying there are parts of me that are less skillful than others. Parts that would benefit from more awareness. Parts that would benefit from more love. But- as long as I view parts of myself as less than. Unworthy. Unwelcome. I won't see myself as whole. And I will tend to focus on those parts rather than the parts that, say, are more skillful than other parts. Parts receiving lots of love. (Or even just getting around to actually giving the love. Appreciating.) Wholeness will continue to be some elusive state-of-being to be found in the future after I have finally gotten my act together. And then some.

And so what about this? What about the parts that I want to change and the parts that want to do the changing all counting toward the whole. The parts that I love and the parts that make me gulp. Each a part of it all. A part of me. And embracing that. Seeing the balance of it all, already put together as it is. It's not a new concept. For me, though, it does constitute as a {brave} step into the unknown, this business of allowing and believing in my own wholeness. It can certainly take me by surprise when I don't judge a thought that I would previously have banished. When I don't kick myself for a habit I wish I could have changed ten years ago. And when I notice that I have taken care of myself when I might have otherwise glossed over it.

Wholeness includes all of these things. It also comes with the caveat of not taking any one part it too seriously. Not getting too attached, as it were, to any of it. You never know, for instance, when one of the parts might just float away. Leaving you whole. Once more.